Throwing the Spotlight on Men in Pole

November is a month used to raise awareness about men's health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity. Well, the burgeoning pole fitness industry is here to encourage men to MOVE.

What we know as pole dance today is really a fusion of modern aerobics, gymnastics and the ancient forms of Chinese pole – seen in circus performances around the world and the likes of the Zip-Zap circus in Cape Town – and Indian Pole, called Malakhamb, which date back to the twelfth century and were strictly performed by men.

Emma Rose, Regional Director of X-Pole South Africa says; “Unfortunately, there are no statistics to prove that more men are turning to the world of pole and aerial arts as a form of fitness training; however, there are some really great male performers out there to keep your eye on. In 2011, Remi Martin and Eike Von Stuckenbrok of Base Berlin performed a Chinese pole duet for the Royal Variety Performance, fully clothed and sneakered I might add. This just goes to show how mainstream pole and the aerial arts have become.”

In South Africa, the trend is growing slowly. As an indication - Rory Vels is an award winning performer and an instructor with Vertical Vixen in Joburg, Rayne Gouws is a performer and instructor with Body Mind in Rivonia, David Rutherfoord-Jones is a competitor and instructor with Pole Dance Cape Town, brothers Orlando and Marcus Vargus are originally from Chile and currently work at Sircusynergy in Joburg, performing and offering aerial classes and an exciting and acrobatic pole class called ‘Pole Raw’.

Of course, there are many more male aerial artists all over the world, particularly in regions such as Russia and the Ukraine where pole fitness hit the mainstream some time ago. Watch videos of:

Kristian Lebedev from Russia

Evgeny Greshilov from Russia

Dmitry Politov from Russia

Carlos Franca from Brazil

Alex Schukin from the Ukraine

Travis Scott from Australia

Thomas Worrell from Australia

Luke Quadrio from Australia

Hamish McCann from Australia

Brandon Pereyda from the USA

Steven Retchless from the USA

Rose adds; “A highlight for me this year was meeting acrobat and aerial performer, Saulo Sarmiento. Saulo is an award winning performer and has performed all over the world, including a stint for Cirque du Soleil. More recently, he was the opening act for Madame Zingara’s The Celebration in South Africa. We had the pleasure of spending time with Saulo while he was in Cape Town with the Madame Zingara crew and he was kind enough to agree to do a shoot for us.”

(Watch Saulo Sarmiento on YouTube)

The below images feature international aerial artist, Saulo Sarmiento - courtesy of X-Pole South Africa and Fjord Productions

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Above move: Ball

This is essentially a “beginner” move but it can be quite hard, requiring both strength and flexibility in the legs and hips.

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Above move: Cupid

This is a great move to work the legs, hips, inner thighs and glutes. Abs are used to keep the upper body upright and leaning away from the pole.

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Above move: Rocketman

This move works the core, arms, chest, glutes and back. The legs and glutes have to squeeze to keep the legs straight and away from the pole whilst the core and arms have to be strong to stop yourself from sliding down the pole.

Last month X-Pole South Africa shared the many reasons why pole fitness is a great workout for men and women alike; similar to other full body workouts such as callisthenics and parkour, and compatible with all other forms of fitness from trail running to cross-fit and yoga.

To find a pole dance studio near you or to invest in a pole of your own, visit

Follow along on Facebook /XPole South Africa and Twitter @XPoleSA for more inspiration, and search the hashtag #meninpole on social media.

Date added: 11/23/2015